Help Print this page 

Summaries of EU Legislation

Title and reference
Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, EEC Treaty - original text (non-consolidated version)

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.

This summary is archived.
Languages and formats available
HTML html ES html CS html DA html DE html EL html EN html FR html IT html HU html NL html PL html PT html RO html FI html SV
Multilingual display
Miscellaneous information
  • Archived: true

Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, EEC Treaty - original text (non-consolidated version)

The EEC Treaty, signed in Rome in 1957, brings together France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries in a community whose aim is to achieve integration via trade with a view to economic expansion. After the Treaty of Maastricht the EEC became the European Community, reflecting the determination of the Member States to expand the Community's powers to non-economic domains.


The establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in July 1952 was the first step towards a supranational Europe. For the first time the six Member States of this organisation relinquished part of their sovereignty, albeit in a limited domain, in favour of the Community.

This first drive towards integration soon came to a halt with the failure of the European Defence Community (EDC) in 1954.

Although there was reason to fear that the effort undertaken by the ECSC was doomed to fail, the Messina Conference of June 1955 endeavoured to add a new impetus to European construction. It was followed by a series of meetings of ministers or experts. A preparatory committee responsible for drafting a report on the creation of a European common market was created at the beginning of 1956. It met in Brussels under the Presidency of P.H. Spaak, the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs at the time. In April 1956 this Committee submitted two drafts, which corresponded to the two options selected by the Member States:

  • the creation of a general common market;
  • the creation of an atomic energy community.

It was in Rome that the famous "Treaties of Rome" were signed in March 1957.

The first Treaty established the European Economic Community (EEC) and the second the European Atomic Energy Community, better known as Euratom.

Since ratification at national level did not pose any problems, these two Treaties entered into force on 1 January 1958.

This summary fact sheet is uniquely devoted to the EEC Treaty.


After the failure of the EDC, the economy, which was less subject to national resistance than other areas, became the focus of consensus in the field of supranational cooperation. The establishment of the EEC and the creation of the Common Market had two objectives. The first was to transform the conditions of trade and manufacture on the territory of the Community. The second, more political, saw the EEC as a contribution towards the functional construction of a political Europe and constituted a step towards the closer unification of Europe.

In the preamble, the signatories of the Treaty declare that:

"- determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe,

resolved to ensure the economic and social progress of their countries by common action to eliminate the barriers which divide Europe,

affirming as the essential objective of their efforts the constant improvements of the living and working conditions of their peoples,

- recognising that the removal of existing obstacles calls for concerted action in order to guarantee steady expansion, balanced trade and fair competition;

- anxious to strengthen the unity of their economies and to ensure their harmonious development by reducing the differences existing between the various regions and the backwardness of the less-favoured regions;

- desiring to contribute, by means of a common commercial policy, to the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade;

- intending to confirm the solidarity which binds Europe and the overseas countries and desiring to ensure the development of their prosperity, in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations;

- resolved by thus pooling their resources to preserve and strengthen peace and liberty, and calling upon the other peoples of Europe who share their ideal to join in their efforts...".

These intentions were fleshed out by creating a common market and a customs union and by developing common policies.


The EEC Treaty provided for the establishment of a common market, a customs union and common policies. Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty directly address these three issues. They state that the Community's primary mission is to create a common market and specify the measures that it must undertake to achieve this objective.

The establishment of a common market

Article 2 of the EEC Treaty specifies that "The Community shall have as its task, by establishing a common market and progressively approximating the economic policies of member states, to promote throughout the community a harmonious development of economic activities, a continuous and balanced expansion, an increase in stability, an accelerated raising of the standard of living and closer relations between the states belonging to it".

This common market is founded on the famous "four freedoms", namely the free movement of persons, services, goods and capital. It creates a single economic area establishing free competition between undertakings. It lays the basis for approximating the conditions governing trade in products and services over and above those already covered by the other treaties (ECSC and Euratom).

Article 8 of the EEC Treaty states that the Common Market will be progressively established during a transitional period of 12 years, divided into three stages of four years each. To each stage there is assigned a set of actions to be initiated and carried through concurrently. Subject to the exceptions and procedures provided for in the Treaty, the expiry of the transitional period constitutes the latest date by which all the rules laid down must enter into force.

The market being based on the principle of free competition, the Treaty prohibits restrictive agreements and state aids (except for the derogations provided for in the Treaty) which can affect trade between Member States and whose objective is to prevent, restrict or distort competition.

Finally, the overseas countries and territories are associated with the Common Market and the customs union with a view to fostering trade and promoting jointly economic and social development.

The establishment of a customs union

The EEC Treaty abolishes quotas and customs duties between the Member States. It establishes a common external tariff, a sort of external frontier for Member States' products, replacing the preceding tariffs of the different states. This customs union is accompanied by a common trade policy. This policy, managed at Community level and no longer at state level, totally dissociates the customs union from a mere free-trade association.

The effects of dismantling customs barriers and eliminating quantitative restrictions to trade during the transitional period were very positive, allowing intra-Community trade and trade between the EEC and third countries to develop rapidly.

The development of common policies

Certain policies are formally enshrined in the Treaty, such as the common agricultural policy (Articles 38 to 47), common trade policy (Articles 110 to 116) and transport policy (Articles 74 to 84).

Others may be launched depending on needs, as specified in Article 235, which stipulates that: "If action by the Community should prove necessary to attain, in the course of the operation of the common market, one of the objectives of the Community and this Treaty has not provided the necessary powers, the Council shall, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the Assembly, take the appropriate measures."

After the Paris Summit of October 1972, recourse to this Article enabled the Community to develop actions in the field of environmental, regional, social and industrial policy.

The development of these policies was accompanied by the creation of a European Social Fund whose aim is to improve job opportunities for workers and to raise their standard of living as well as to establish a European Investment Bank in order to facilitate the Community's economic expansion by creating new resources.


The EEC Treaty consists of 240 articles in six separate parts, preceded by a preamble.

  • the first part is devoted to the principles which underline the establishment of the EC via the common market, the customs union and the common policies;
  • the second part concerns the foundations of the Community. It comprises four titles devoted respectively to the free movement of goods; agriculture; the free movement of persons, services and capital; and finally transport;
  • the third part concerns Community policy and includes four titles relating to common rules, economic policy, social policy and the European Investment Bank;
  • the fourth part is devoted to the association of overseas countries and territories;
  • the fifth part is devoted to the Community institutions, with one title on the institutional provisions and another on the financial provisions;
  • the final part of the Treaty concerns general and final provisions.

The Treaty also includes four annexes relating to certain tariff positions, agricultural products, invisible transactions and overseas countries and territories.

A total of twelve protocols were annexed to the Treaty. The first concerns the status of the European Investment Bank and the following concern various problems linked to specific countries (Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) or to a product such as mineral oil, bananas, green coffee.

Finally, nine declarations were annexed to the final Act.


The EEC Treaty establishes institutions and decision-making mechanisms which make it possible to express both national interests and a Community vision. The institutional balance is based on a triangle consisting of the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament, all three of which are called upon to work together. The Council prepares the standards, the Commission drafts the proposals and the Parliament plays an advisory role. Another body is also involved in the decision-making procedure in an advisory capacity, namely the Economic and Social Committee. The Commission, an independent college of the governments of the Member States; appointed by common agreement, represents the common interest. It has a monopoly on initiating legislation and proposes Community acts to the Council of Ministers. As guardian of the treaties, it monitors the implementation of the treaties and secondary law. In this connection it has a wide assortment of measures to police the Member States and the business community. In the framework of its mission the Commission has the executive power to implement Community policies.

The Council of Ministers is made up of representatives of the governments of the Member States and is vested with decision-making powers. It is assisted by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER), which prepares the Council's work and carries out the tasks conferred on it by the Council.

The Parliamentary Assembly originally had only an advisory role and its members were not yet elected by direct universal suffrage.

The Treaty also provides for the creation of the Court of Justice.

In compliance with the Convention on certain common institutions, which was signed and entered into force at the same time as the Treaty of Rome, the Parliamentary Assembly and the Court of Justice are common to the EEC Treaties and the Euratom Treaty.

With the entry into force of the Merger Treaty in 1967, the Council and the Commission become institutions shared by the three Communities (ECSC, EEC and Euratom) and the principle of budgetary unity was imposed.


This Treaty was amended by the following treaties:

  • Treaty of Brussels, known as the "Merger Treaty" (1965)This Treaty replaced the three Councils of Ministers (EEC, ECSC and Euratom) on the one hand and the two Commissions (EEC, Euratom) and the High Authority (ECSC) on the other hand with a single Council and a single Commission. This administrative merger was supplemented by the institution of a single operative budget.
  • Treaty amending Certain Budgetary Provisions (1970)This Treaty replaced the system whereby the Communities were funded by contributions from Member States with that of own resources. It also put in place a single budget for the Communities..
  • Treaty amending Certain Financial Provisions (1975)This Treaty gave the European Parliament the right to reject the budget and to grant a discharge to the Commission for the implementation of the budget. It established a single Court of Auditors for the three Communities to monitor their accounts and financial management.
  • Treaty on Greenland (1984)This Treaty meant that the Treaties would no longer apply to Greenland and established special relations between the European Community and Greenland modelled on the rules which applied to overseas territories.
  • Single European Act (1986)The Single European Act was the first major reform of the Treaties. It extended the areas of qualified majority voting in the Council, increased the role of the European Parliament (cooperation procedure) and widened Community powers. It set the objective of achieving the internal market by 1992.
  • Treaty on European Union, known as the "Maastricht Treaty" (1992)The Maastricht Treaty brought the three Communities (Euratom, ECSC, EEC) and institutionalised cooperation in the fields of foreign policy, defence, police and justice together under one umbrella, the European Union. The EEC was renamed, becoming the EC. Furthermore, this Treaty created economic and monetary union, put in place new Community policies (education, culture) and increased the powers of the European Parliament (codecision procedure).Treaty of Amsterdam (1997)
  • Treaty of Amsterdam (1997)The Treaty of Amsterdam increased the powers of the Union by creating a Community employment policy, transferring to the Communities some of the areas which were previously subject to intergovernmental cooperation in the fields of justice and home affairs, introducing measures aimed at bringing the Union closer to its citizens and enabling closer cooperation between certain Member States (enhanced cooperation). It also extended the codecision procedure and qualified majority voting and simplified and renumbered the articles of the Treaties.
  • Treaty of Nice (2001)The Treaty of Nice was essentially devoted to the "leftovers" of Amsterdam, i.e. the institutional problems linked to enlargement which were not resolved in 1997. It dealt with the make-up of the Commission, the weighting of votes in the Council and the extension of the areas of qualified majority voting. It simplified the rules on use of the enhanced cooperation procedure and made the judicial system more effective.
  • Treaty of Lisbon (2007) The Treaty of Lisbon makes sweeping reforms. It brings an end to the European Community, abolishes the former EU architecture and makes a new allocation of competencies between the EU and the Member States. The way in which the European institutions function and the decision-making process are also subject to modifications. The aim is to improve the way in which decisions are made in an enlarged Union of 27 Member States. The Treaty of Lisbon also reforms several of the EU’s internal and external policies. In particular, it enables the institutions to legislate and take measures in new policy areas.

This Treaty has also been amended by the following treaties of accession:

  • Treaty of Accession of the United Kingdom, Denmark and Ireland (1972) which increased the number of Member States of the European Community from six to nine.
  • Treaty of Accession of Greece (1979)
  • Treaty of Accession of Spain and Portugal (1985), which increased the number of Member States of the European Community from 10 to12.
  • Treaty of Accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden (1994), which increased the number of Member States of the European Community to 15.
  • Treaty of Accession of Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia (2003)This Treaty increases the number of Member States of the European Community from 15 to 25.
  • Treaty of Accession of Bulgaria and Romania (2005). This Treaty increased the number of Member States of the European Community from 25 to 27.



Official Journal

Entry into force

Official Journal

Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (EEC)



Not published

Merger Treaty



OJ 152 of 13.7.1967

Treaty amending Certain Budgetary Provisions



OJ L 2 of 2.1.1971

Treaty amending Certain Financial Provisions



OJ L 359 of 31.12.1977

Treaty on Greenland



OJ L 29 of 1.2.1985

Single European Act



OJ L 169 of 29.6.1987

Treaty on European Union (Maastricht Treaty)



OJ C 191 of 29.07.1992

Treaty of Amsterdam



OJ C 340 of 10.11.1997

Treaty of Nice



OJ C 80 of 10.3.2001

Treaty of Lisbon



OJ C 306 of 17.12.2007

Treaties of Accession

Date of signature

Entry into force

Official Journal

Treaty of Accession of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark



OJ L 73 of 27.3.1972

Treaty of Accession of Greece



OJ L 291 of 19.11.1979

Treaty of Accession of Spain and Portugal



OJ L 302 of 15.11.1985

Treaty of Accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden



OJ C 241 of 29.8.1994

Treat of Accession of the ten new Member States



OJ L 236 of 23.9.2003

Treaty of Accession of Bulgaria and Romania



OJ L 157 of 21.6.2005

See also

Last updated: 26.10.2010